The first salvo in the election fight for mayor of Kelowna has been fired and the topic is Costco.
Word is that the retail giant wants to expand in the Central Okanagan, and that could mean moving out of its current Kelowna location. One area being mentioned is West Kelowna.
Kelowna mayoral candidate Tom Dyas says losing Costco would be a major blow to the city’s economy.
“The impact would come in a number of different platforms. One of them would be accessibility for individuals within this community,” said Dyas. “Now we would be looking at driving potentially across the bridge, which is going to cause increased traffic.”
Regarding taxes, Dyas says the loss in property tax revenue would be upwards of $450,000. He says as mayor, he’d go out of his way to accommodate Costco.
“In my discussions with Costco,” said Dyas, “I would be asking them what they are wanting of this community and doing my best at accommodating what they are looking for.”
Incumbent mayor Colin Basran says he, too, wants to keep Costco from leaving Kelowna and that efforts are underway to help find Costco a new site in Kelowna. However, he added that Dyas is jumping the gun.
“We met with Costco representatives many months ago,” said Basran.
“I think what this is, is somebody who is running for mayor just looking for headlines. The fact is that we have met with Costco representatives to say that we want to keep them here and we’ve instructed our planning staff to work with them in order to find locations that may be appropriate for them to relocate.”
“It is not grandstanding, it is not headlining,” replied Dyas. “This is an issue that is very timely for our community.”
Global News asked the other two mayoral candidates for their thoughts on the possibility of Costco moving.
Candidate Bobby Kennedy says losing Costco would result in jobs loses, and he fears Costco will leave with Basran at the helm.
The fourth candidate, former city employee Bob Schewe, says council needs to accommodate Costco, adding that it’s time to look after our own and Costco is one of our own.
Costco has no comment.